One suspect detained over Istanbul attack

Police office secures area after an explosion near the Ottoman-era Sultanahmet mosque in Istanbul. (AP)

While Turkey has detained 68 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in raids across the country, the country’s authorities have detained one person over the suicide attack in Istanbul that killed 10 mainly German tourists, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on Wednesday.

“One person was detained in operations carried out yesterday (Tuesday) evening. The investigation is continuing in a very intensive way,” he told a news conference alongside German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

Bomber was refugee

An ISIS suicide bomber who killed the 10 German tourists in Istanbul entered Turkey as a refugee and his movements were not monitored as he was not on any watch lists, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

Asked whether Turkey planned air strikes against ISIS in response to the bombing, Davutoglu said Turkey would act at a time and in a manner that it saw fit.

He said Russia's entry into the Syrian civil war had become a barrier to Turkish air strikes against ISIS, and that the Russian air force appeared to be protecting the radical Sunni militants.

Meanwhile, three Russians were also detained in the Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya, a popular destination for tourists, but it was not clear if the arrests were directly linked to the Istanbul bombing.

Davutoglu's statement comes after Ala said the suicide bomber behind the attack was not on any wanted list but had registered with Turkey’s immigration authorities.

The minister said the man’s fingerprints were on record with the Turkish authorities, when asked about a report in the Turkish media that the man had registered at an immigration office in Istanbul a week ago.

“Your assessment that his fingerprints were taken and there is a record of him is correct. But he was not on the wanted individuals list. And neither is he on the target individuals list sent to us by other countries,” Ala told a news conference.

Currently, there are two German citizens who are still in a serious condition in hospital after the attack, Ala said.

“There are at the moment 11 wounded at the hospital ... of these 11 people, 9 hold German nationality, while one is Norwegian and the other is from Peru,” he said.

In the same time, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there was no indication that Tuesday’s suicide attack specifically targeted Germans, adding there was no need for nationals to cancel travel plans.

“In the current stage of the investigation, there is no indication that the attack was targeted against Germans. I see no reason to refrain from trips to Turkey,” de Maiziere told a news conference in Istanbul Ala.

State media on Wednesday said Turkey has detained 68 suspected members of ISIS group in raids across the country.

But the reports did not make clear if there was any connection to Tuesday’s blast.

Sixty-five people were detained on Tuesday in raids in Ankara; Izmir on the Aegean; the Syrian border town of Kilis; Sanliurfa close to Syria; Mersin on the Mediterranean; and the southern city of Adana, the Anatolia news agency said.

In Ankara, the authorities detained 16 people who were suspected of planning a major attack in the capital, the report said.

The 21 people detained in Sanliurfa were also planning an attack at an unspecified location in Turkey, it added.

The reports did not make clear if there was any link to Tuesday’s suicide bombing in Sultanahmet Square in central Istanbul, which the authorities said was carried out by an ISIS member who came from Syria.

(With agencies)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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